Logo Losberger
Logo Losberger

Josephine Burns, chair at Without Walls, on why the creative industries are being under-represented in education.


There was a climbdown by the Russell Group of universities last month when it scrapped its controversial list of preferred A-levels, after long-running criticism that this contributed to a devaluation of arts/technology.

It’s a response to concern about the proportion of 15/16 year-olds in England studying subjects like music and drama falling to the lowest level in a decade as a result of government policies and education cuts. Reforms like ebacc’s introduction have pushed pupils towards ‘traditional’ academic subjects.

The Incorporated Society of Musicians, the UK’s professional body for musicians said the list of ‘facilitating subjects’ – code for ‘desired by universities’ which hitherto excluded arts – has had “a devastating effect” on A-level uptakes.

The perception that studying these areas won’t get you a ‘proper job’ is despite masses of evidence. Jobs in the creative industries are growing at four times the UK average, but there are currently around 77,000 roles that are either unfilled or that require additional skills. Skills shortages and gaps in the workforce threaten the remarkable success that the UK’s £101.5bn creative industries have seen to date.

Listen up, everybody – it’s a proper job!